I can't describe how good pot-au-feu tastes. The meats and vegetables and so soft; the broth is so warming and fragrant. Pot-au-feu's flavors evoke so many childhood memories!
For 6 people:
Cooking time (total): 4 hours
- 600 grams (1.5 pounds) beef short plate ("plat-de-côte")
- 600 grams (1.5 pounds) beef shank ("gîte")
- 600 grams (1.5 pounds) beef brisket ("macreuse")
There are good beef cuts diagrams here and here.
- 1 onion
- 4 cloves ("clous de girofle")
- 3 garlic cloves
- "bouquet garni": bay leaf, sprigs of thyme and fresh italian (flat-leaf) parsley tied together with kitchen string
- 10 whole peppercorns
- 1 tbsp coarse sea salt
- 4 carrots
- 3 turnips ("navets")
- 3 parsnips ("panais")
- 3 leeks
- 4-6 branches of celery
- Pour 2 liters (1/2 gallon) cold water in a (very) large pot (preferably cast iron). Place the whole short plate in the water. Bring to a boil. After 10 minutes, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour.
- Add the two other pieces of meat (whole), the onion (whole, peeled, with cloves nailed in it), garlic (whole cloves, peeled and crushed), herb bouquet, peppercorns and salt. Bring to a boil, skim then reduce heat again and simmer for 2 hours without a lid.
- Add the carrots and parsnips (peeled and cut in 3 lengthwise), turnips (peeled and cut in 4 crosswise), leeks (dark, hard ends removed, cut in 4 crosswise, rinsed and tied together - or one by one- with kitchen string) and celery (in 1-inch chunks). Cook slowly for another hour.
- If you are lucky and find marrow bones, poach them in slightly salted water 20 minutes before the end.
The broth is usually served separately from the meat and vegetables (as shown in the pictures). The broth can be filtered (through a fine sieve). Serve as hot as possible with mayonnaise (home made that is...), mustards (Dijon extra strong or whole grain) and toasted bread.
My Mom tells me that placing the meat in already boiling water keeps it more tender and flavorful than starting from cold water. She uses beef shank ("jarret") and short plate ("plat-de-côte"). She only cooks it for 2 hours total, adds the vegetables mid-way through and a few potatoes (peeled and cut in 4 or 6 pieces) half-an-hour before the end. She doesn't use parsnips (I had never eaten parsnips before this time, actually).